Let’s face it: alcohol is everywhere. For me, I had to find another outlet.
Alcohol is found in just about every public establishment you can think of, and its nearly impossible to avoid the decision of whether or not to drink altogether. I remember sitting through orientation at my law school listening to the Dean tell me and other brand new students that the legal profession has a much higher incidence of alcohol-related abuse than any other profession. What was I getting myself into? It most likely has to do with high work-related stress. But get this: right after this talk we were released to attend a 1L welcome event that carried plenty of alcohol. In fact, I can’t even remember attending one event at law school that didn’t involve alcohol aside from on-campus organization meetings. Alcohol abuse isn’t just an issue in the legal profession, however, it’s an issue in the lives of a variety of people. The path is dark, empty, meaningless, and scary. I can speak from experience after turning to alcohol one too many times in law school. I’ve never reached the point of abuse, but turning to alcohol became too easy. I also didn’t like who I was while drinking heavily, and I knew I was trying to cover up a much bigger problem.
Law school was stressful for me, and as I mentioned above, alcohol was everywhere. I went from drinking every so often in my later years of college to turning to alcohol more frequently in law school. I quickly discovered that my classes were overwhelming. I had too much to do daily and not enough time to do it in. I fought with the rest of my class, the class I saw as my friends, for the top grades. I struggled with test anxiety. I even contemplated taking a shot of some type of alcohol on several occasions before an exam to take the edge off my nerves.
I’ve also had several scares in law school relating to alcohol. One involved walking home nearly alone after a night of drinking and being approached by a car with a man who thought my friend and I were prostitutes. I praise God that the man drove away after we said “No.” My other scares are a mixture of not remembering how or when I got home, and watching my wonderful husband take care of me when I decided running a bathtub while intoxicated was the right thing to do. It was funny at the time, but after some serious reflection, it was so stupid, and I could have easily drowned. These are my stupid choices, and I am so thankful for the friends and family who were there for me during these times and others.
It seems crazy to me that I’d ever get to point where I’d have to decide to step away from alcohol. In high school I was pressured to no end on everything you can think of. I never gave in to drugs or alcohol, and saying no got much easier as the years went on. Once I made it to college everyone knew that no matter how hard they tried I would not drink. Instead, I adopted the motherly role: being designated driver, holding heads out of toilet water, and tucking my friends into beds on their stomachs with trash cans near by. I wonder how many DUIs I prevented? God revealed my desire to help people at a very young age. I had no problem helping my friends when they drank too much. It wasn’t until my final two years of college when I tried alcohol for the first time and got drunk for the first time. I was exactly 21. College was different. I was surrounded by some of the best friends a girl could ever ask for. But even then, I ignored the fact that too much alcohol made me feel awful. I hate hangovers. They are unbearable for me. I basically have to sleep the entire day because my stomach feels like someone stomped on it for 3 hours, and keeping any food down is a miracle.
I had a lot of break-throughs while studying for the bar exam. One is my decision to step away from alcohol. My decision mainly stems from my desire to follow God, but you don’t have to look far to see the health benefits of this decision either. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there were nearly 16,000 deaths in 2010 stemming from alcoholic liver disease. Even more disturbing is this number: there were nearly 26,000 alcohol-induced deaths altogether in 2010, excluding accidents and homicides. Our bodies were not created to withstand heavy drinking, and it’s pretty clear that alcohol can destroy bodies, families and lives. The key? moderation. My limit is one drink occasionally nowadays. Depending on the size of that one drink will depend on how many glasses of water I drink with it, and for how many hours I sip that drink. I haven’t drank heavily in over 2 months, and I feel like a completely different person. Now, all of this is not to say that drinking a glass of wine or having a beer with dinner or socially is entirely bad: there are health benefits found in all of it, but the key is still moderation.
Some of you might be asking: what does the Bible say about drinking alcohol? I did a bit of research into this, mainly from the highly valuable source, What Christians Want to Know, and discovered that God does not completely forbid drinking, but the Bible is clear that being drunk is bad. (See Galatians 5:21 – Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God). Quite simply, it leads to horribly poor decisions. Following God means following him completely and with a clear head, which includes obeying his Word.
It’s easy to turn to alcohol to escape problems, stress, struggles, suffering, but the pain is always there when you wake up in the morning. (Not to mention, the horrendous hangover as well). I decided I didn’t like who I was when I drank heavily; I didn’t like how I felt; and I certainly didn’t want my poor husband to have to take care of me like he has. I also have made a conscious decision to follow God completely so that I may discover his purpose for my life. I found that I was using alcohol to cover up stress when working out was the very best cure, and I found that I was covering up other struggles when confronting them was the much better option.